Southern California Edison (SCE) will need to modify many of its practices in the future to enhance its response to major storms like the one of Nov. 30, 2011, although an independent report indicated the utility followed a number of industry best practices in its storm response.
“We have said from the beginning that we intend to learn lessons from our storm response and are determined to do better in the future,” SCE President Ron Litzinger said.
SCE commissioned an independent consulting firm, Davies Consulting LLC, to conduct an independent assessment of the utility’s preparedness for and the effectiveness of its response to last November’s windstorm.
The Davies group, focusing on 11 areas of evaluation, concluded from an analysis comparing the Nov. 30 windstorm restoration to 29 similar event restorations performed by other utilities that SCE deployed a sufficient number of resources to restore power to customers. The report further confirmed that SCE restored power within seven and a half days and did so without any serious injuries to SCE employees or the public.
The report also estimated, however, that SCE could have shortened the restoration period by at least one day, and possibly two days, had the utility demonstrated better situational awareness and employed a fully functioning Incident Command System, an improved damage assessment process, a refined planning process, and a more thoughtful implementation of its wire-down policy.
The report details 80 findings and 70 recommendations across the previously mentioned five areas.
Since early December, SCE has been implementing steps across the utility’s different business units to improve its response to storms, and these efforts are ongoing. SCE also has expanded its communications with local elected officials and community leaders.
This includes developing redundant communication systems such as email, texts and a special call-in number for local government officials and ensuring they know who their primary and secondary SCE contacts are in case of an emergency. Although SCE is taking near-term steps to improve, a number of the recommendations from the Davies report may take years to implement.
SCE also appointed an internal panel to review how the storm was handled, and the results of that internal review are being released concurrently with the Davies report.
The severe windstorm resulted in nearly 225,000 customers being without power at the peak of the event, and more than 400,000 customers experienced at least some power loss. The wind knocked down approximately 250 poles, 60,000 feet of wire and 100 transformers, most of them in the greater San Gabriel Valley, the hardest hit area.
SCE deployed more than 1,500 field resources to remove vegetation and safely restore power. Within 24 hours of peak outages (4 a.m. on Dec. 1), SCE had restored nearly 50 percent of its customers’ power. Restoration efforts were completed on Dec. 8. There were no serious injuries to the crews or the public.